Putting-off the writing work: Can this be helped


“I put all my shoes in front of me and polished them”, “I cleaned my curtains”, “My house was never as clean as it was when I had to write my dissertation”. These were the most interesting revelations by a panel on surviving the dissertation that was organised as a part of a course I audited recently. The tendency to putt-off writing is just incredible. I never feel prepared enough, and when I do get to writing, I never quite feel as if I’ve done a job good enough. Every now and then I do a reasonable outline but never get to finish it since there are parts that I am unhappy with. As a result I’ve all those unfinished papers and unsent assignments. It’s not that I don’t work reasonably hard, but the lurking unhappiness makes me put off things forever. And very often, when this cycle gets on me, I reach the office in the morning and start on an elaborate routine of reading e-mails, newspapers and get totally distracted for the day.

When my cycles hit a low (that it does every now and then) I need a dose of revisiting and taking stock of my time management. Normally I do this by reading a book on time management or something around it. This time, I turned to You Tube and found this nice discussion with Julie Morganton on her book Never check email in the morning. The talk was pleasant and it was nice to refocus on some of the mistakes I keep slipping into. Most of the ideas she discusses are not entirely new, but I guess one does not revisit such talks or books to just learn new things – but to create a space to think and review what one’s doing. I’ve linked the talk below so that I can revisit and so can other friends who share the problem with me.

The talk is not directly addressed to a grad student, but some of the issues she discusses are of relevance.


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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